20 years of Photo Münsingen: From a beer idea to a photo festival

What began with a beer in 1998 is celebrating its 2019th anniversary in 20: Photo Münsingen! But first things first. From the beer idea, Ueli Wälti wrote a vision. It's supposed to be something big, with exhibitions, slide shows and seminars. With photo clubs and photographers from all over Switzerland. Even more, an international photo festival. To this end, Bern Airport is to be expanded and the runway lengthened so that photographers and visitors can travel from all over the world. Münsingen as a creative meeting place for photographers. A vision!

In 1999, the vision initially became a pilot event called “Fototage Münsingen”. This allowed the concept to be tested, the members of the Münsingen Photo Club to be won over to cooperate. Eight photo clubs showed their most beautiful pictures in the Schlossgutsaal over the Ascension Days. The exhibition was a success, with encouraging feedback from participating clubs and enthusiastic visitors. The cornerstone for planning the first Photo Münsingen was laid. In volunteer work we created further exhibition infrastructure, got the support of the municipality of Münsingen, looked for sponsors, created concepts, plans and budgets.

The first Photo Münsingen in 2000

During the Ascension Days, from June 1st to 4th, 2000, the Photo Münsingen was held for the first time, with the three pillars of exhibitions, slide shows and seminars. The theme of the first club competition was "Sunday". 16 photo clubs were already there. These included the clubs from Belp, Solothurn, Thun and Blende 8, who have always given the Münsingen Photo Club strong support ever since. Josef von Mentlen and Walter Gaberthül presented creative works and the Münsingen Photo Club also showed the pictures from the annual competition. Audiovisual slide shows and seminars rounded off the 1st Photo Münsingen. 1 people interested in photography were enthusiastic about the new forum and encouraged us to continue. A lot has proven itself since the first implementation. Every year, the best club work is honored with the "Photo Münsingen Award".

Visitors can vote for their personal favorites and win nice prizes. And the members of the Fotoclub Münsingen get the opportunity to present the pictures from the annual competition for their commitment. The event has been taking place since the beginning of Ascension Day, and thanks to sponsors, entry is still free.

Highlights from 20 years of Photo Münsingen

Club exhibitions

Every year around 60 photo clubs and photo teams from all over Switzerland take part in the competition for the "Photo Münsingen Award". The challenge of working on a given topic as a team is demanding, exciting and enriches club life. In the beginning, the pictures were sent in by the clubs, framed and hung according to their specifications. The clubs have recently been delivering their data digitally and the tableaus are being created by Photo Münsingen. At the vernissage, everyone is eagerly awaiting the award ceremony and the coveted «Photo Münsingen Award». Photoclub Sense won the first issue on the subject of "Sunday". We maintain close contact with our photo clubs from Riedisheim (F) and Kirchzarten (D) and show each other pictures. Other clubs, teams and photo schools regularly present their work at Photo Münsingen.

Creative solo exhibitions

Over the past 20 years, more than 400 photo exhibitions have been presented in the ideal Schlossgut area of ​​Münsingen. New locations were added all the time. The outdoor exhibitions connect the nine houses and create the unique ambience. The choice of photographers and the placement of the exhibitions is exciting and the encounters with the creative personalities are always highly interesting and enriching.

The exhibitions by Thomas Ulrich with the exhibition "Cerro Torre", the encounter with Fernand "Sepp" Rausser and with 12 Bernese photographers on the subject of "paradises" are unforgettable.
Then the large-format flower portraits of Alfons Iseli in the castle, Indrich Streit, he exhibited for the first time under the new umbrellas on the Schlossgutplatz.

Miroslav Stibor, another photographer from the Czech Republic, metamorphoses by Elena Martynuk and underwater fantasies by Sergey Buslenko, both from the Ukraine, sports photos by Andreas Blatter, wildlife and nature photos by Lorenz A. Fischer.

From Germany then the creative exhibitions by Thomas Herbrich and Uli Staiger. The federal photographer Hansueli Trachsel in the Schlossallee. The large format impressions of the Chinese Leo KK Wong in the flower house and aesthetic nude photography by Christoph Ris, Romel Janeski and Martin Zurmühle.

Unforgettable are Martin Eisenhawer's "Winter Ghosts of Hokkaido" in the Blumenhaus, and Christian Heeb's portraits of Indians in Schlossallee. Then the emotional exhibition “The Eye of Love” by the great Swiss photographer René Groebli and the portraits of sailors by Maud Bernos. Large format landscapes by Martin Mägli and Sandro Diener, creative exhibitions by photographers from Turkey, France, Italy, England and Greece. Henna and Arthur Honegger with “Ach Amiland” on Schlossgutplatz and the portraits of Beat Mumenthaler on Allee. In the Spycher youth center, young talents were given the opportunity to present their work to a broad public.

Digital exhibitions

From 2011, the print exhibitions were expanded to include the digital Photo Arena. The team volunteered to construct a 12-screen arena. A further 10 authors were now able to present exhibitions digitally each year. The best pictures from the annual PHOTOSUISSE competition will also be presented.

Audiovisual presentations

What began 20 years ago as slide presentations with rattling projectors, has developed over the years into sophisticated digital audio-visual shows. Firstly, the popular multivisions from distant countries and the animal and plant world, such as “Unter Bären” by David Bittner, “Earth Extreme” by Carsten Peter and “El Conor Sur” by Urs Wohlwend. Then the creative short shows that merge photography with text and music into a new dimension of presentation.

Workshops and lectures

Actively imparting and further developing knowledge about photography was a strategic goal right from the start. Hard to believe, but in the first Photo Münsingen seminars on toning and coloring of pictures were offered. The first courses in digital photography soon followed. It was often exhibiting photographers who passed on their knowledge in courses. The program offered the full spectrum of photography: image design, portrait photography, studio and nude photography, macro, landscape and animal photography, still life and, and, and. With increasing digitization, digital image processing with Photoshop and Lightroom was also a hit. Even Calvin Hollywood paid his respects in Münsingen. Andri Pol led a reportage workshop and in the photo courses by Christoph Ris and Martin Zurmühle, active photography was always in the foreground. The photographers present gave more and more interesting lectures about their work and working methods.


The program always included surprising and creative special events: a slide show in 3D, the large camera obscura of the Thun photo club, drone photography, the exhibition and live body painting by Johannes Stötter and the nostalgia studio with wet plate courses by Peter Michels are just a few of them.

The sponsors

Sponsoring is based on performance and consideration. We are fortunate that we can count on long-term partnerships over the years. A sponsor from the very beginning was AGFA. In 2000, Walter Weber very spontaneously supported the first project «Photo Münsingen». With the digital development, the film production had to be shut down and the collaboration stopped. In 2014, paths crossed again with Walter Weber. Now head of the Photo Division Switzerland at Fujifilm. Photo Video Zumstein Bern, Nikon, Fujifilm and Cewe have been the main sponsors in recent years. Close and friendly partnerships have developed with many other sponsors.

The more than 4 photo-loving visitors every year and the unique atmosphere at Photo Münsingen convinced the partners to support our project. Ultimately, events like this awaken enthusiasm for photos, cameras and technology. The municipality of Münsingen is also involved financially and materially. At this point I would like to say a big thank you to the sponsors and partners for their great commitment and the very pleasant cooperation.

The organization of Photo Münsingen

Photo Münsingen is part of the Münsingen Photo Club. In the beginning, responsibility lay with the board of directors. With the annual growth of Photo Münsingen, the organizational team was also expanded with specialists from outside the club. Photo Münsingen would not have been possible without the support of the photo clubs Belp, Thun, Solothurn, Blende 8 and many helpers from other clubs. The OK is now active all year round. After Photo Münsingen is before Photo Münsingen. Looking back, it is almost unbelievable how many new exhibition locations have been created in the entire Schlossgut area of ​​Münsingen and how new infrastructure has been realized with passion and know-how.

The Fotoclub Münsingen itself also benefits enormously from Photo Münsingen. The number of members has increased to 60. As a highlight, the photo club won the "Photo Münsingen Award" in 2009 and was also awarded the culture prize of the municipality of Münsingen.

The magical power of a vision

The vision has long since become reality. A unique photo forum emerged from the beer idea. Photo Münsingen has established itself over the past 20 years. Every year, it inspires visitors and photographers from all over Switzerland and abroad. We have succeeded in creating a creative and inspiring platform for photography in the Schlossgut area, which enables exchange and discussion of the various facets of photography. This is very important to us and is what makes Photo Münsingen so attractive.

We would like to thank everyone who has contributed their full commitment to the success over the years.

Niklaus Messer


Leave a comment

Participate in the discussion?
Leave us your comment!

Leave a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked with * marked

This website uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn more about how your comment data is processed.